Hospitals Duel Over Wait Times

From the Wall Street Journal:

Now, one northern New Jersey hospital is trying to lure patients from competing hospitals by bragging about its low average wait times in the emergency room. Bayonne Medical Center on Tuesday unveiled two billboards in Jersey City that are updated with the emergency-room wait times several times a day.

“When people face a medical emergency they want to know they’re going to get high-quality care and they’re going to be seen in a timely manner,” Bayonne Chief Executive Officer Dan Kane said on Tuesday, when the wait time stood at 32 minutes. “They’re going to wait far less than they would in any other area emergency department.”

Wrong, said officials at nearby hospitals. They said their service was just as fast, and scoffed at the notion that patients would choose a hospital based on numbers flashed on billboards.

“It’s going to take them 20 minutes to a half hour to get [to Bayonne Medical Center], and there are other hospitals in the area that are closer,” said Paul Hebert, spokesman for Christ Hospital in Jersey City. “From a logistics standpoint, I don’t think it’s that great of an idea.”